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Israel must lift blockade of Gaza immediately: UN chief

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has demanded that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately in the wake of a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

world Updated: Jun 03, 2010 11:22 IST

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has demanded that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately in the wake of a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Speaking on his return from visits to Brazil, Malawi and Uganda yesterday, Ban told reporters that the underlying
problem behind Monday's tragedy was the long-running, crippling Israeli siege of Gaza which he described as
"counter-productive, unsustainable and wrong."

The UN secretary general said Israeli authorities must provide a "full and detailed account" of the commando raid on
six ships that tried to break the Gaza siege to deliver some 10,000 tonnes of supplies.

Israeli commandos boarded one of the aid ships bound for the Gaza Strip in a pre-dawn raid on Monday that left at least nine passengers, including four Turks, dead. Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists were also arrested.

The Israeli army said the commandos resorted to force after they were attacked with sticks and stabbed as soon as
they landed on the deck.

Organizers of the so-called "Freedom Flotilla" denied the military's account, saying the soldiers had started firing as soon as they landed.

Ban said he was looking at "various options" to conduct the "prompt, credible, impartial and transparent" investigation of the incident, which the UN Security Council called for Sunday.